The charity that was set up to safeguard Ben Nevis’s environment has announced it will remove all the memorial plaques on the mountain summit (pictured below). If owners don’t claim them they will be disposed of in five years’ time.

Ben Nevis summit

But it has said it will set up a new collective memorial site in the valley base near the visitor centre in Glen Nevis.

The Nevis Partnership, which consists of local government bodies, mountain organisations such as the John Muir Trust and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MCofS) and other interested parties, will also remove all cairns on the mountain except the summit peace cairn and those which aid navigation.

The organisation is now appealing for the owners of the plaques to come forward so they can be returned to them. The MCofS acknowledges it is a sensitive issue but, there is no evidence of a connection between many of those named on the plaques and the mountain itself. It says some may even be in the memory of pets.

The removal of the cairns and memorials is part of the Nevis Strategy that was drawn up in 2001.

The MCofS says: “For those plaques that do commemorate people there is, in most cases, no evidence as to what was the person's association with Ben Nevis or if they had ever climbed the mountain or even visited the area.

“Irrespective as to who placed the plaques on Ben Nevis or in whose memory these plaques were erected it is recognised that the removal of plaques from the summit plateau is a sensitive issue having the potential to cause grievance and perhaps even distress to some people.

“It is for this reason that the plaques will not be physically removed until a concerted and sustained effort has been made to contact those individuals or organisations who wish to lay claim to them. Except for the original plaque installed in the peace cairn, which has both national and international significance, it is the intention to eventually remove all other commemorative plaques and wherever possible offer to return them to their owners.”

The Glen Nevis memorial site will be officially unveiled in a non-religious ceremony next Sunday (27 August). The Nevis Partnership will also be introducing an online virtual book of remembrance which will be available to view at the ceremony, which starts at 11am.

The debate on the forum of the MCofS website is overwhelmingly in favour of the removal of these memorials, with very few exceptions.

On a separate issue, two of the emergency shelters on the Ben Nevis massif have been removed: those on Carn Dearg (North West) and in the Coire Leis. Both are said to have been very difficult to locate in typical winter conditions when they become buried by snow and general opinion was that time and effort was better spent finding a safe route off the mountain. They are both marked on current Ordnance Survey and Harvey’s maps.

There are no plans to remove the emergency shelter in the ruins of the observatory on the summit.